Riding program enriching lives
For the volunteers behind a grassroots disability program in Horsham, every week is a chance to enrich the lives of others.
Horsham Riding for the Disabled, RDA, at Riverside Recreation Reserve Complex, has been serving the Wimmera for nearly 40 years.
The program provides people with disabilities an opportunity to develop skills in pathways including horse riding, carriage driving and vaulting, experience a sense of achievement and improve their quality of life.
Horsham RDA carriage driver, rider and life member Geoff Hammond has been part of the organisation since its inception in 1981.
Known fondly at the regional centre for bringing ‘a big bag of carrots’ for the horses each week, president Alison Silcock said he was one of more than 40 clients the service assists.
“We have quite a lot of clients from primary-school age through to mature age,” she said.
“RDA is often the one thing they have to look forward to all week.”
While the program is centred on assisting children and adults with special needs, it is also an enriching process for its volunteers.
The group recently hosted its annual general meeting, where RDA Australia chair Jan Croser presented Horsham volunteers with service award badges.
Ann Grills and Margaret Howard received 25-year service badges, and Tom Grills received his 20year badge.
Mrs Grills said she had remained a volunteer for so long because she could see the joy RDA brought to all its riders.
“The volunteers all really enjoy being involved,” she said.
“I would encourage other people to volunteer.”
Mrs Silcock said the centre was always looking for new volunteers.
“It’s very rewarding, we’re doing something for others and helping others,” she said.
“We have nearly 40 volunteers, and we certainly need more.
“These programs would not be possible without all the volunteers who willingly give their time to run these sessions and care for our horses.
“We provide on-the-job training. Volunteers just need a Working with Children Check.”
Horsham Riding for the Disabled operates every second Wednesday with a riding rally, and every Friday with carriage driving, as well as alternating riding and vaulting sessions.
People interested in volunteering can call Mrs Silcock on 0427 882 235.